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Single-cell sequencing demonstrates complex resistance landscape in CLL and MCL treated with BTK and BCL2 inhibitors

Thompson ER et al.
Blood Advances (2021)

The genomic landscape of resistance to targeted agents (TAs) used as monotherapy in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is complex and often heterogeneous at the patient level. To gain insight into the clonal architecture of acquired genomic resistance to BTK inhibitors and BCL2 inhibitors in CLL, particularly in patients carrying multiple resistance mutations, we performed targeted single-cell DNA sequencing of eight patients who developed progressive disease (PD) on TAs (either class). In all cases, analysis of single-cell architecture revealed mutual exclusivity between multiple resistance mutations to the same TA class, variable clonal co-occurrence of multiple mutations affecting different TAs in patients exposed to both classes, and a phenomenon of multiple independent emergences of identical nucleotide changes leading to canonical resistance mutations. We also report the first observation of established BCL2 resistance mutations in a patient with mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) following PD on sequential monotherapy, implicating BCL2 as a venetoclax resistance mechanism in MCL. Taken together, these data reveal the significant clonal complexity of CLL and MCL progression on TAs at the nucleotide level and confirm the presence of multiple, clonally independent, mechanisms of TA resistance within each individual disease context.


Thompson ER, Nguyen T, Kankanige Y, Markham JF, Anderson MA, Handunnetti SM, Thijssen R, Yeh PS, Tam CS, Seymour JF, Roberts AW, Westerman DA, Blombery P


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